|Algerian runner Taoufik Makhloufi was kicked out, then let back in, to the Olympics on Monday. (US Presswire)|
Over the weekend, we had a roundtable discussion here on the blog of what we considered the biggest stories of the Olympics so far. It's a succinct, quick read. If you feel you've missed anything with these Games so far, I highly suggest scooting over to that post.
In said post, I brought up all the quitting that's happened at these Games. And not just the awkward appearance of quitting, but the admission of giving up. We've seen outright, egregious, intentional calculations across numerous sports -- and the athletes haven't been coy about their intentions and motivations for losing. It's become more than coincidence; this is now a thread. On Monday, track became the latest victim in this Olympiad's taboo-like trend of tanking.
Turns out Algerian runner Taoufik Makhloufi didn't want to play -- or run. So what happened when he lined up for his 800-meter heat Monday morning in London? He made a mockery of the race. I can't even call it tanking because Makhloufi actually left the track lines entirely, stepped into the infield and cheered on his competitors. Despite going through extensive qualifying for that event earlier this year in his country, he showed up for the Games and chose to stand this one out, basically taking a spot away from someone who would've run the 2,625 feet with all they had. Pretty deplorable.
|It was all good, all casual for Makhloufi, who decided to sit this one out. (NBCOlympics.com/BusinessInsider.com)|
The reason Makhloufi lined up to begin with is due to Algerian officials not withdrawing him from the race in time. They were too lazy to even get him to quit under proper protocol. So out he went ... and then out he went.
"The referee considered that he had not provided a bona fide effort and decided to exclude him from participation in all further events in the competition," the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said in a statement.
Makhloufi, who wasn't a medal favorite in the 800, apparently wanted to save his energy and would have rather have only run in the 1,500 -- the other race he qualified for, and in fact could medal in (he ran a semifinal-best 3:42.24 in the 1,500s). Because he so obviously quit, IAAF officials initially kicked him out of the Games Monday morning. It was a great decision. Way to take a stand most can agree on, IAAF officials!
Only ... yeah, the ban didn't stick. That's right. His punishment? Nada. Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported on Twitter Monday afternoon that, thanks to some sort of doctor's note/consent, Makhloufi is totally back at the party. IAAF and Olympic brass had but no choice to let him back in, meaning he'll run in Tuesday's 1,500-meter final, because the good doctor said so.
From afar, the only bodily malfunction I can glean from Makhloufi's performance in the 800 stems from his brain. No matter. A signature on and a PhD letterhead cures all here. That's some good hookup the Algerian Olympian's got. The note and IAAF backtrack are as bogus as was whatever faux injury Makhloufi was able to get written off.
Pretty frustrating, don't you think? Because it's one thing to have camaraderie; it's another to actually alter the outcome of an event by removing yourself in the midst of it. We've got the world's best 800-meter runners on the biggest stage and essentially Makhloufi gives up like it's a game of Monopoly that's gone on too long into the night. He could have just as easily run the thing slowly, crept at an eighth-place pace, and no one would've been the wiser.
Makhloufi will run in the 1,500-meter final at 5:15 ET on Tuesday.